Love them or hate them if you have young children; & perhaps if you don’t; you are going to spend a lot of your time in Disney World seeking the Famous Disney Characters. Our top tips & tricks on how to find Characters at Walt Disney World will help you maximize your vacation time and make sure you find your idol. Our guide has been updated with all the latest information for 2019.
Introduction to Finding Characters at Walt Disney World
Long gone are the days where you would find Walt Disney World’s famous characters wandering around the park unaccompanied. Character meets in Walt Disney World are now very organised affairs.
Scheduled times, organised lines, supervising cast members and accompanying Phoptopass photographers are the usual setup for most character meet and greet. In addition, long waits for the most popular characters is now an inevitable part of the “Disney Park experience”.
Many of the biggest Character meets can now be reserved in advance using Fastpass and this can significantly cut your waiting time. However; you will need to sacrifice a Fastpass for a ride and often this isn’t a good use of Fastpass in our opinion.
Fastpass Plus & Character Meals can significantly cut the amount of time waiting to see your favorite Characters, but waiting in line on occasions is unavoidable. On occasions, these lines can be very long especially to meet the most popular characters.
Many Characters can be found away from the regular meet and greets which can save you time on your vacation. Our tips & tricks on how to find Characters at Walt Disney World will help you maximize your vacation time and still meet your favorites.
My Disney Experience for Character Hunting
Make sure you have the My Disney Experience App installed on your smartphone before you arrive at Walt Disney World. The app is filled with handy features including making dining reservations, book more Fastpass reservations and real-time attraction wait times. However, it is also a great tool for finding characters at Walt Disney World.
The My Disney Experience App will tell you where and at what times you can meet your favorite character. Timesheets available at the entrance contain similar information but are not as user-friendly.
In our experience, the My Disney Experience App is now essential for Walt Disney World. It is important you carry a smartphone or tablet so you can use the free WiFi in the parks. The app will even give you an indication of the waits for the most popular characters.
All parks have a different selection of characters although you will find Mickey, Minnie, Donald, Goofy & Pluto usually in all parks. Characters in parks do change from time to time.
If you are struggling to find your favorite ask Guest Relations or any Cast Member who will be happy to help.
Character Meals are a great, but not a cheap option to meet Disney Charcaters. Character Meals are located throughout Walt Disney World. They are offered at each theme park plus at several resorts.
Whether it is Mickey Mouse, a Disney Princess or Winnie the Pooh there is likely to be a character meal where you can meet your favorite character.
While they often don’t offer the best food character meals are always great fun. They also offer the opportunity to meet some of the most popular characters without long waits.
We have created a Guide to Character Meals at Walt Disney World which has details of all the current available Character Meals.
Parades & Dance Parties
While you will not meet the Characters, although you may hit lucky & get some interaction with a walking Character, parades offer a great opportunity to see a collection of characters.
There is now only 1 true parade in Walt Disney World. The fantastic Festival of Fantasy Parade is held daily and usually at 3 pm in the Magic Kingdom.
Characters do occasionally vary but you may see up to 40 of your favourites. Common characters include Mickey, Minnie, Anna, Elsa, Belle, Cinderella, Snow White, The Seven Dwarves, Tinker Bell, Peter Pan and Jiminy Cricket.
Move It! Shake It! MousekeDance It! Street Party replaced The Move It! Shake It! Dance and Play It! Street Party in January 2019. While the name of this new party is very similar to its predecessor there are some small differences.
The party occurs several times a day down Main Street USA. Guests are invited to join an energetic dance party with remixes of “Mickey Mouse Club” melodies and more. Joining Mickey and Minnie are Donald Duck, Daisy Duck, Goofy, Pluto, Max, Chip ’n Dale and more.
Dance Parties have been springing up frequently in Walt Disney World in recent times. Current Dance Parties include the cast of the Lion King & Disney Junior. Check out the My Disney Experience App or the park time sheet for current parties.
Unscheduled Character Appearances
Unscheduled appearances of Characters are becoming increasingly rare events at Walt Disney World. It is unlikely you will encounter an unscheduled character wandering around the park. The most likely unscheduled character appearance you will encounter is the Character Palooza.
Character Palooza is an unpublished character meet and greets that occurs on any day that Hollywood Studios holds performances of Fantasmic. During Character Palooza you will find between 5-10 rare characters.
Character Palooza is never advertised, and cast members will even deny it exists. The location varies, it may be cancelled by bad weather and the frequency even changes. The only thing you can guarantee if there is no Fantasmic, there will be no Character Palooza.
There are also unscheduled character appearances on occasions in Epcot, but these are even harder to predict than Character Palooza.
Epcot is used as the training ground for new cast members, and occasionally unscheduled appearances do occur. International Gateway and the American Adventure gates are the typical locations.
Appearances at Resorts
Disneyland Paris regularly has Resort based Characters, but at Walt Disney World this is a rare event.
Usually, the only opportunity to see Characters at Resorts are at Character Meals. However; at Christmas there are appearances in the Deluxe Resorts and in times of extraordinary weather characters may make appearances to raise guests’ spirits.
Apart from Santa Claus during December & rather bizarrely during the summer, you will not find Characters at Disney Springs.
Both Mickey’s Not-So-Scary Halloween Party & Mickey’s Very Merry Christmas Party offer the opportunity to meet rare characters. As an added bonus costumes will usually be either spooky or festive themed.
Halloween offers the opportunity to meet the rather rare Disney Villains while at Christmas Scrooge McDuck will usually make appearances. Plus both parties are the only opportunity to meet all Seven Dwarfs.
It is worth nothing that there are no Fastpass opportunities at either of these parties and waiting times can be very long.
There is a special parade at both of these parties and there is an opportunity to spot some very rare seasonal characters.
Pay for a Private Character Session
It isn’t cheap but everything has a price at Walt Disney World even a private Character meet and greet!
We are struggling to find an up to date price, but the Disney Parks Moms Panel describes it as “steep”. We suspect $1000 plus is the current price.
Tips & Tricks When Meeting Disney Characters
You have found your favorite Character & the kids are getting excited! Here are our Top Tips to have a great Character experience:
- Wait your turn. If you are in a line you will meet the character. They will occasionally have breaks but they will return. Cast Members will close the line if the Meet & Greet is scheduled to close.
- At Character Meals, all tables will be visited! Don’t ruin another table’s experience by jumping on Mickey Mouse. In the unlikely event, you do get missed speak to a Cast Member and they will return.
- Be prepared i.e. camera out, the autograph book opened on a blank page, have a pen that works, etc.
- Don’t push or poke characters! Seriously it does happen, often by adults, and it isn’t nice. Keep an eye on the kids as they can get a bit overexcited. Plus especially keep an eye on Nana when she meets Donald Duck!
- Don’t spend too long with the characters. It is nice for everyone to have both individual and group photos but there will also be people behind you.
- Have an autograph book. You can buy these everywhere at Walt Disney World but a simple homemade one works just as well.
- Be patient if a Character goes for a break. They will be back and it isn’t the Cast Member manning the line fault that Goofy needs the restroom.
Do you have any further tips on how to find characters at Walt Disney World? Leave a comment below if you have any.
Visit our guide Walt Disney World for Beginners for more essential tips.
If you want more Walt Disney World Tips & Tricks we have lots of them here on Modern Life is Good. Here are 201 Tips & Tricks to have a great vacation at Walt Disney World.